THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Still Winter – Enjoy It!!

Good news is we’re halfway through January! Bad news? It’s still winter in Chicago. So, you might as well as enjoy it!

Join the Chicago Polar Bear Club for their 17th annual Polar Plunge fundraiser this Saturday at Oak Street Beach (1000 N. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Gold Coast neighborhood.  The plunge will take place at noon sharp and will be done as one big group.  Remember, all plungers MUST wear shoes and don’t forget to wear your best costume!  After all, you’re doing something crazy, so why not embrace it?  Plus, there’s a costume contest!  Afterwards, head on over to the after party at Old Town Social.  Your $35 ticket will include food, a special drink package, games, and more.  Most of all, YOU can make a difference in a family’s life who’s in need!!

There are several Chicago Park District Events taking place this Saturday for both kids and the adults (bigger kids), which include:

“Family Flakeout” at the North Park Village Nature Center (5801 N. Pulaski Rd.) in the North Park neighborhood from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Learn all about snow!  Capture and identify the different types of snowflakes, make snow people inside, and see frost crystalize right before your eyes!

“Sno-Way 16” Softball Tournament” at Rainey Park (4350 W. 79th St.) in the Scottsdale/Greater Ashburn neighborhood from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“Polar Adventure Day” at Northerly Island (1521 S. Linn White Dr.) in the South Loop from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Activities include touring the Northerly Island natural area, seeing Siberian huskies, wolves, and other live animals, enjoying a treat at the CLIF kid healthy snack station, sipping hot cocoa while strolling across the prairie, and much more!

Join the 2018 Chicago Ale Fest – Winter Edition at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood this Saturday in the Aon Grand Ballroom for the largest winter craft beer event in Chicago.  This fest will feature more than 150 American Craft Beers with a strong focus on winter seasonals!  There are two sessions: 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.  Plus, Chicago’s favorite food trucks and a DJ spinning your favorite hits will!  It’s one of the most anticipated winter beer events of the year!!

Join Joe’s Bar (940 W. Weed St.) in the Goose Island neighborhood this Saturday (1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.) for their Chitown Beernival.  It’s a beer-themed, adult carnival benefitting Autism Speaks.  Activities include a beer pong tournament, competitive flip cup, carnival games, great prizes, and more!  There’s even an after party at Sully’s House (1501 N. Dayton St.) from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  It’s guaranteed to be a great time for a great cause!!

Or, join Hofbräuhaus Chicago (5500 Park Pl.) in Rosemont this Saturday (6:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.) as they celebrate their fifth anniversary!  Festivities include a traditional keg tapping ceremony, an authentic “oompah” band direct from Germany, and performances from a 40-piece German Bugle band.  And, the first 300 guests to arrive will receive a free commemorative t-shirt!!

Enjoy Winter! It Will Go Faster!!

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Chicago Loop, Edgewater, Oak Park

Lincoln Park: Lincoln Park Zoo presents Murder Mystery Dinner: Totally 80s, Totally Murder. This fabulous, interactive 80s theme party has the audience participate in a live-action Clue-style game! With a three-course dinner and drinks, guests can play either a murder suspect or a detective. The event is from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, February 16 and Saturday, February 17 for ages 21 and up. Tickets are $60 for Lincoln Park Zoo members and $65 for non members. Find out more here!

Lakeview: Do you need plans for Valentine’s Day weekend? Get your tickets now for the “My Bloody Valentine” murder mystery dinner at the Skyline Club. Vlad & Peni Dreadfull’s Ma Cabaret and Cavalcade of Curiosities present their first charity mystery dinner and fundraiser in partnership with USO of Illinois. Cocktails and clues begin at 6:30 pm on Friday, February 16. You can buy your own character, participate in a fabulous raffle, and a silent auction. Dinner includes a carving station, buffet appetizers, side dishes, and a cash bar. Get your tickets for this fabulous event now, here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: On a chilly weekend, now’s the perfect time to explore museum exhibits in the city! The Ukranian National Museum (2249 W. Superior) presents Warming Art Exhibit. Les Panshyshn is a 26 year old artist and photographer from Ukraine. This exhibit explores global warming through vibrant colors, golden planets, flamingos, and penguins. The exhibit opened on Friday, January 12 and will continue through Sunday, January 28. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children.

Chicago Loop: Chicago Symphony Orchestra presents “Singin’ in the Rain”. The CSO will perform the gorgeous music by Nacio Herb Brown live! Performances are Friday January 19 at 8 pm and Sunday January 21 at 3 pm. If you plan on attending the Friday performance, join conductor Richard Kaufman and drummer Brian Miller for a pre-concert lecture in Grainger Ballroom. These performances are part of “CSO at the Movies”. Buy your tickets here!

Edgewater: Need a little theatre in your life? Check out “Nice Girl”, opening at the Raven Theatre this Wednesday, January 24. Written by Melissa Ross, “Nice Girl” tells the story of Josephine, a 37-year old woman feeling stuck in her job, her single life, and living in her mom’s house. A new friendship and a budding romance open a world of possibilities to her. Raven Theatre “proudly presents the Chicago premiere of Melissa Ross’ play about the tragedy and joy of figuring out who you are and letting go of who you were supposed to be.” The show plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. It runs until March 11. Get your tickets now here!

Oak Park: Even with the super cold temperatures, there are still ways to have fun! Come to the Winter Park Fest in Oak Park on Saturday, January 27! Located in Austin Gardens, this winter event starts at 11 am. Snow or no snow, this will be a fun-packed event; complete with outdoor ice skating, music, and food. Admission is free and skate rental is just $1 (limited availability). No registration required, just show up ready to have a good time!

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Restaurant Review – DryHop

I have been eyeing the menu at DryHop for months and I finally got to go this week. Located at 3155 N. Broadway, DryHop is a brewery and kitchen with a cool and unassuming atmosphere. The menu is packed with tasty, gastropub creations. We came in at about 2 pm on Sunday afternoon and were seated right away. The restaurant was bustling, but not too loud (the older I get, the less I like super loud restaurants). My mouth started watering right away as I read the menu. I was intrigued by the Blackened Tilapia Tacos on the starters menu: white corn tortillas topped with pickled jalapeño, sour cream, red cabbage, cotija cheese, cilantro, and radishes. I thought about ordering these for my main entree, but ultimately decided on the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. A soft brioche bun topped with a fried chicken breast, white cheddar pimento cheese, sweet pickles, and coleslaw. It came with a generous order of fries, garlic lemon pepper aioli, and house-made ketchup. It was absolutely wonderful. I demolished the fries and the sandwich didn’t stand a chance either. My boyfriend ordered the burger: their custom house blend with ancho-tomato chile jam, arugula, pickled sweet onions, and raw milk cheddar. He also added a fried egg. This burger was amazing. He’s not a fan of sauces, so he ordered the jam on the side. It was very sweet, so if you’re not a fan of sweet things, I would recommend doing the same. It’s a good thing my fried chicken was so good, or I might have had order envy.

DryHop also has cans and growlers that can be filled to-go, so you can enjoy their delicious craft beers at home. Growlers are 64 ounces and cans are 32 ounces. DryHop does not take reservations. However, if there’s a wait when you arrive, you’ll be placed on a wait list, and texted when your table is available. Find more information about this fantastic spot here!

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Winter Rules for Houseplants

The growth of your houseplants will slow during the winter months. The light coming in through the windows is down an average of 50%, especially in colder climates. You might have to move plants that need bright light to get the maximum amount of light. Move them closer to the windows, but not too close. Fluorescent lights can provide good light without heat or excessive energy use. Position 4-12 inches away. Temperatures near windows can be 10 degrees lower. Most plants like temps around 65-70 degrees during the day and around 10 degrees less at night. Temps below 50 can cause problems. Some plants might need to be moved away from the window at night for warmth and moved closer in the morning for light.

Plants need less water during the winter months. I see more houseplants die from over care than under care. Most will survive and thrive with a thorough watering every two weeks. Signs of overwatering are yellowing leaves, dropping of leaves, soft stems, and spots on leaves. The plants in my house are lucky to get watered twice a month and they are doing fine. Check to make sure soil is dry an inch or so down. Pick up the plant, if it feels light it’s dry. Weight is a great indicator, so feel the weight after watering.

With forced air heat, humidity in the house can drop by 10% during the winter. Plants do best in 40-50% humidity. You can increase the humidity by using a room humidifier or leave out shallow trays with pebbles and water near the plants. Even with humidifiers on the furnace, we need extra moisture. It’s good for your skin too! It can also help to group plants together away from heat registers.

If you live in a colder climate with low sunlight, stop fertilizing until plants outside start growing in spring. In milder climates, keep fertilizing but use a weaker mix. Many flowering plants don’t flower as much in winter with the lower light and temperatures. I have had luck with my violets this year in the garden window. They get light all day and are blooming like crazy! It’s a blessing if you have one of those. With careful watering and care, our houseplants will come through the winter with flying colors.

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

6 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

A real Christmas tree can be a significant fire hazard if it’s left indoors to dry out for too long. When the holidays are over and the time has come to take the tree down, you can always drop the tree off at a recycling center or tree drop-off area in your community, or even leave it curbside to be picked up on a designated pick-up day if applicable.

But there are other ways that you can recycle that Christmas tree that has added some festive cheer to your interior throughout the holidays. Here are a few ideas to help give you some inspiration.

1. Use it in Your Garden

Your garden can benefit from your old Christmas tree in a number of ways. For starters, you can shred it and use it as mulch to nourish the soil. The pine needles can add also some much-needed moisture to your garden since they are slow to decompose and aren’t prone to developing any mold.

They’re also great for insulating the garden if you live in northern parts of the state where it can get pretty cold outside. Wood chips from evergreen trees are also great for keeping unwanted insects and critters out of garden beds thanks to the scent.

2. Create an Animal Sanctuary

Whether you have livestock living on your property or simply have an affinity for animals and want to give them a place to rest comfortably, you can use tree chips made from shredding the Christmas tree to be used as bedding.

You can even leave the tree in one piece and place it outdoors to be used for birds. They can either use the tree as a habitat or can feed off of bird feeders hung from the boughs of the tree. But once the tree dries out too much, it should be safely discarded to avoid any fire hazards.

3. Add it to a Pond or Lake For the Fish

Local wildlife and other animals aren’t the only creatures of nature that can benefit from your old Christmas tree. Even the fish from a nearby body of water can take advantage of it.

If you live nearby a lake or pond, or if you have one on your own property, you can toss the tree in there to provide a natural habitat for fish. As the tree decomposes, it will attract algae which the fish can then eat.

The tree may even serve as a habitat for fish that are seeking shelter from the cold and protection against predators. Just make sure the tree hasn’t been chemically-treated and that all decorations have been removed. Also, get any necessary permission from your municipality if need be.

4. Make Something Crafty

If you’re the creative type, you might want to use the material from your Christmas tree to create something unique. You can saw the trunk into discs to be used as beverage coasters or even to edge your garden or walkway.

You might even want to place them around your yard in a decorative manner that can also serve as a resting place for squirrels, chipmunks, or birds. If you’re using the discs inside, make sure you seal them first to avoid any leakage from the wood.

With a little imagination and creativity, there are all sorts of things you can make with an old tree.

5. Steep Some Tea

Rather than toss the pine needles from the tree, save some of them to brew yourself a pot of tea. Just boil a handle of needles for a few minutes until the desired strength is achieved (usually no more than 10 minutes).

Not only will the wonderful aroma fill the space, tea made from steeped pine needles can be very healthy for you. Pine needles have tons of vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which have can help ward off chronic illnesses and keep your eyes healthy and strong.

Just make sure that no chemicals have been applied to the tree. In addition, identify what type of evergreen tree it is to make sure it isn’t a poisonous breed. For instance, Norfolk Island Pine and Ponderosa Pines are poisonous if consumed, so be sure to verify exactly what sort of tree the needles come from before you steep that cup.

6. Use the Pine Needles as an Indoor Air Freshener

Boiling a few pine needles as tea isn’t the only way to sweeten the smell of your home. You can also crush the needles and place them in bowls that you can leave out on tabletops, shelves, and counters.

They can be placed on their own or combined with other lovely-smelling things that give off wonderful aromas, such as cloves or cinnamon sticks. Just make sure to keep the needles away from any open flames like fireplaces or candles to avoid any potential fire hazards.

The Bottom Line

Your Christmas tree has done its job adding to your home’s holiday decor over the past few weeks, but it’s just about time to retire it. While it can be somewhat sad to take it down after spending all that time decorating it, knowing that the tree is being used for another purpose might help. Consider any one – or all – of the above idea to repurpose your old Christmas tree.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Summertime Fun During Winter!

After being teased with spring-like temps this past week, it’s back to reality this weekend.  But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on warmer temps altogether!  Check out these events for some summertime fun during winter!

Check out the Windy City’s biggest marine and outdoors sales event at the Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show this Saturday (10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.) and Sunday (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) at McCormick Place – South (2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop.  Get a glimpse of summertime fun with the best in boating, RVing, or sailing.  There are boats for every activity, lifestyle, and budget.  Or get the latest in RVs, campers, fifth wheels, motorhomes, and trailers.  Or check out the sailboats, sailing gear, rigging, and accessories.  Plus, there’s an incredible lineup of family friendly features and hands-on activities such as Fred’s Shed Interactive Learning Center, the Huck Finn Trout Pond for kids, Captain Bill and the Floaty Boat (new), the Chicago Maritime Arts Center Build-a-Boat (new), and much more!  You can even book trips with travel, charter, and resorts!! And, it’s all under one roof!!!

It’s time again for the 2018 Cubs Convention, taking place this weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E. North Water St.) on the Near North Side.  Now celebrating its 33rd year, the convention will feature player meet and greets, autograph opportunities and panel discussions with current players. There will also be alumni, a Cubs memorabilia room, interactive exhibits, enhanced kids’ activities, and so much more.  Saturday’s program brings back a fan favorite with the return of “Cubs Jeopardy” and popular reoccurring sessions such as “Baseball Operations Update,” “Business Operations Update,” “Joe Maddon & His Coaching Staff,” “Kids Only Press Conference,” and others.  The evening will conclude with a long-time convention favorite – “Cubs Bingo” – led by Wayne Messmer!  Sunday wraps up with additional autograph sessions and panels.  Be sure to check out the above link for the most up-to-date information!  I can smell summer already – PLAY BALL!!

The Professional Bull Riders will be celebrating 25 years during its 2018 season as the world’s top bull riders converge on The Windy City this Saturday and Sunday.  It’s the 8th time the “Toughest Sport on Dirt” returns to the Allstate Arena (6920 Mannheim Rd.) in Rosemont for two days of nonstop exhilarating rides and jaw dropping wrecks!  If you don’t believe it’s the toughest sport on dirt, check it out for yourself!!

Recommended by The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Reader, and featured on ABC’s Windy City Live, The Greatest Story Never Told takes place every Sunday (3:00 p.m.) at the Under The Gun Theater (956 W. Newport Ave.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.  Kids from the audience can volunteer to come on stage and perform characters alongside professional adult improvisers to create “The Greatest Story Never Told”.  And, the original improvised story is transformed into a storybook available for purchase after the show!  Doors open at 2:30 p.m. with pre-show activities including crafts, coloring, games, and dress-up fun on the stage.  Complimentary snacks and coffee are provided as well!!

In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, the Jane Addams’ Hull-House Museum (800 S. Halsted St.) in the University Village neighborhood will host Family Day on Sunday (12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.).  This program includes a reading, discussion, and book signing of “Beyond the Underground: Aunt Harriet, Moses of her People” with author, Harriet Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece, Michele Jones Galvin. There will also be arts workshops, tours, and games that focus on collective community action and more!  It’s a day that highlights resistance and liberation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.!!

Will You Have Summer in Winter?

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, River North, Logan Square, Evanston

Lakeview: Get ready for the TNK Festival Kick-Off Party in collaboration with Cards Against Humanity, this Tuesday January 16. The party is at Tied House Loft at 3157 Southport Ave. This pop-up party begins the 5-day Chicago music festival that unites many independent music venues in the area. The event will feature games curated by Cards Against Humanity and prizes! The event is from 7 to 10 pm and will have limited edition TNK prints for the first 100 guests, Busy Beaver buttons, complimentary food and beverages from Deep Eddy, Heineken, and Hellion Cold Brew. Find out more here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Trying to get in shape this New Year? Want to try something new? Check out “Get Fit with Cardio Soccer” in Wicker Park! This program is specifically designed for adults with busy routines who prefer achieving their fitness goals in a group setting. All sessions are structured around SAQ (speed, agility, and quickness), soccer specific drills, small sided games, and tournament-like scrimmages. It is a moderate intensity program that will help participants increase their stamina, flexibility, and overall conditioning. The next session is Thursday, January 18 from 6 am to 7 am. All sessions are run by professional and licensed coaching staff! Email milos@westloopsoccerclub.com for more information.

Lincoln Park: Join HopCat for its 10th Anniversary Celebration next Saturday, January 20! The party begins at 11 am with FREE Crack Fries (if you haven’t tried them, they’re delicious!) and 10 beers! From 11 am to 5 pm, HopCat is giving away free Crack Fries with any purchase; one order per person. There is also a Crack Fries Eating Contest beginning at 3 pm. Contestants must sign up in advance, either by email, phone, or in person by 2:30 pm on the 20th. Entry fee is $5 and will be matched by HopCat, with all proceeds donated to PAWS Chicago. The 1st place winner will receive a HopCat prize package valued at $500 and the chance to compete for the $2000 grand prize. If you don’t want to subject your stomach, just hang out, grab a beer, some food, and enjoy the festivities! Find out more about this exciting event here!

River North: Jonesin’ for a bar crawl? River North has you covered with the “Boozin’ in your Onesie Bar Crawl”! The kick-off party begins at 12 pm this Saturday, January 13 at Ironside Bar (546 N Wells St). If you haven’t registered already, you can do so here! Late registration will take place at the second and third venues, Bar Cargo and the Flamingo Rum Club. Your ticket price includes a LED bracelet indicating when to head to the next venue, a 17 oz. color changing cup, videographers and photographers joining you throughout the crawl, a cash prize for the Top Scariest, Funniest, or Sexiest onesies, entry to 8 venues with no cover, 40% off drink specials, and 25% off food specials! Register in advance here and get your crawl on!

Logan Square: This Tuesday, January 16, join City Lit Books for a tribute to Denis Johnson, in conjunction with the release of his final book The Largesse of the Sea Maiden. Denis Johnson was a two time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a National Book Award winner. This collection of short stories is about mortality, transcendence, and aging and was finished shortly before the author’s death. Local authors, including Rebecca Makkai, Juan Martinez, Nami Mun, Adam Morgan, and Amin Ahmad will participate in the tribute event. These authors were selected for the event because they seem to have been influenced by Johnson’s work. They will read from Johnson’s new book, share original work in response to or inspired by Johnson, and comment on the influence his writing may have had in their own lives. The event begins at 6:30 pm.

Evanston: Are you ready to get your rock on? This Saturday, January 13, come to Evanston Rocks and see The PettyBreakers. The PettyBreakers are the nation’s premier “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers” tribute act. Based out of Southern California, this band recreates the sights, sounds, and experiences of a Tom Petty concert. Tickets start at just $15 and the concert begins at 8 pm. Buy your tickets here now!

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Should You Buy a Home Before or After You Get Married?

While marriage rates may have been on the decline in recent years, homeownership continues to be a goal for many Americans, regardless of marital status. But those who do have plans to marry have the choice between buying a home together before marriage or after.

In fact, about 40% of millennials believe that buying a home together before marriage is an ideal option, and approximately a quarter of married couples in this demographic buy their first home together prior to exchanging vows.

Regardless, you’re going to need a place to nestle in together once you and you’re significant other say your “I do’s.” These days, it’s pretty common for couples to cohabitate together long before marriage, and fewer are waiting for the big day to actually buy their first home with each other.

If you’re in the middle of preparing for your wedding, should a home purchase be part of the plans? If so, should you make this important purchase before or after your nuptials?

Before you decide, it’s important to consider a number of factors and weigh the pros and cons of buying before marriage or after. Here are some tips to help you make that crucial decision.

Understand Each Other’s Individual Financial Situation

Before you decide to buy a house together, it’s important that you both are fully aware of each other’s finances. While it’s ideal for you both to be in similar financial positions, it’s common for one partner to have much healthier finances than the other.

It’s absolutely essential that you have the conversation about your finances long before you decide to buy a home together (and before you get married, for that matter). You’ll want to know about each other’s assets, debt, and even family obligations you may have. This is not exactly the most comfortable conversation to have with one another, but it’s a crucial one nonetheless. Knowing where you both stand financially will help avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.

Consider How Title Will Be Affected

The title of the home that you purchase will be affected by whether or not you are married. Marital status determines how the title of a property is legally held and how it will be transferred should one of you pass away.

If you’re not married before buying a home together and the title is considered tenants in common, you both have ownership in the home. Should one of you pass away before the other, the deceased person’s share of ownership isn’t necessarily transferred to the surviving owner. Only if that person’s name is specified in the will this happen.

On the other hand, joint tenancy will result in the ownership interest of the deceased partner being automatically transferred to the surviving partner in the event of death.

In some states, only married couples are allowed to hold title as ‘community property’, which is the case in California. If one spouse dies, the descendants’ heirs will only be allowed to receive half of the property. Even if the surviving spouse’s name was not on title, they can still get a ‘community interest’ in the property.

You’d be well advised to speak with a real estate agent or lawyer who will be able to guide you through the process of title transfer, including what happens when one partner dies or the tax implications associated with either scenario. The type of title that is transferred matters, so it’s in your best interests to understand the benefits and implications associated with taking title before or after marriage.

Should You Combine Your Savings?

Obviously, the larger your down payment towards a home purchase, the better overall. Not only will this improve your chances of getting approved for a mortgage, it will also mean a smaller loan amount and a lower interest rate. But should you combine your savings and have one joint account when buying a home?

This is a personal choice and should only be made with careful forethought. Having one account can make paying the mortgage and all operating costs associated with homeownership more simplified. Both of you can set up a joint account whereby payments are automatically made to further simplify things. But doing so can also complicate things if one person makes a lot more money than the other, or even in the event of a divorce.

If you’re not married and unequal contributions to the joint account are being made, you may want to have these details documented in case you don’t end up getting married for whatever reason, which brings us to our next point.

Consider a Partnership Agreement if You Buy Before Marriage

You may have the best of intentions when agreeing to buy a home together before you get married, but anything can happen. As such, it would be wise of you to get a legal agreement drafted up that details what will happen in certain circumstances.

For instance, how will the proceeds of the home be divided if you split up? Will one partner buy out the other? Who will be responsible for any outstanding expenses, taxes, or capital gains?

These questions only scratch the surface of all the potential complexities that may arise should things not pan out the way you initially intended. That’s why having an agreement in place can help iron out these details and avoid ugly battles in court.

Individual Credit Scores Affect Loan Approval

Ideally, both you and your partner will have good credit scores that will make it easy for you to get approved for a mortgage. But if you’re entering a home purchase and one person’s score is poor, your chances of getting approved can be slashed. That’s because lenders typically view unmarried couples as individual applicants, regardless if you’re applying together, while married couples are seen as one unit.

If your partner has a poor score and you are not yet married, for instance, it could impact how the property is titled and who will assume responsibility for the mortgage. If you’re married, however, one person’s higher credit score can be an advantage to the other, as it can eliminate the poorer score from the equation. That said, if only one person with the higher score is applying for the mortgage, only one income will be recorded which could translate into a lower approved loan amount.

Determine Whether the Mortgage Can Be Carried on One Income

If both you and your partner/spouse are signing the mortgage agreement, you are both entirely responsible for the debt, regardless of whether or not one person contributes more financially. If you split up and your partner bails out on their end of the bargain, for example, you will still be completely liable for the debt.

As such, it’s recommended that the mortgage you get can be comfortably paid on one income. That way you won’t be placed in a financial predicament should you split up or if one of you loses your job.

The Bottom Line

Your decision to buy a home before or after marriage should be based on a lot of careful consideration. Not only is the purchase itself a major financial investment, the legal contract that you enter into could impact things should your relationship end up taking a wrong turn. Speaking with a real estate agent and attorney before determining which path you take can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Restaurant Review – Garcia’s

New Year’s Day can be a tricky time to find someplace to eat in the city. Many restaurants close for the holiday, or have limited hours. We knew we’d be in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, as we had plans to see a movie at the Davis Theatre. A friend of ours recommended Garcia’s, a Mexican restaurant at the intersection of Western and Lincoln. We went in around 3 pm on New Year’s Day and were seated right away. The restaurant is huge, with a large number of tables. We were pleasantly surprised at how cheap everything is! The prices are so reasonable and the menu has a huge selection. After looking at the drink menu, I couldn’t resist ordering a margarita (it was only $7!). I ordered mine on the rocks with salt. It was giant and so tasty! I couldn’t believe it was such a steal. I was overwhelmed by the giant menu, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to order. My boyfriend is much more decisive than I am and he chose the Carne Asada burrito: skirt steak, beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese. The burrito was very sizable and was packed full of steak. He also asked for a small bowl of green salsa on the side, which was deliciously spicy. I was pretty hungry and decided on the three taco dinner. I ordered one chorizo taco, one Chile relleno taco, and one al pastor taco. This was gigantic! I could easily have done with the two taco dinner, or even just two tacos a la carte. But man oh man, was it delicious! I have never had a Chile relleno taco, so it was really fun to try something totally new. The pepper was giant and both stuffed and smothered in cheese. The chorizo taco was my favorite! The chorizo was so spicy, perfectly complemented by the fresh and crunchy veggie toppings. By the time I got to the al pastor, I was so full, I couldn’t finish. But the meat was wonderfully spiced and I love pineapple on my tacos, so I was pleased. Overall, Garcia’s was a fantastic meal (and a great deal!). We will definitely be back!

Garcia’s is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 am to 1 am, Fridays from 10 am to 3 am, Saturdays from 10 am to 4 am, and Sundays from 10 am to 12 am. They are also available for take-out and do take reservations.

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO